Cultures in the Amazon

The adventures continue on...

Also during our trip the the Amazon, we were able to interact with various indigenous communities to learn more about they preserve their customs and cultures!

Cultural Community Experiences 

Muyuna community 

Some of the girls performing a cultural dance. 
The student singing songs in her native language of Quechua


The Muyuna community is the community that we performed the minga with, and in a short amount of time, we were able to learn more about their culture. According to their director, 99% of their community is of Quechua descent; therefore, many speak their native language of Quechua as well as Spanish. They still make consistent efforts to keep alive their traditions and pass it on to their children. One of the first presentations was given by a student who sang a traditional song that is well known amongst the community while wearing a traditional gold outfit with embellishments at the waist. Many of their songs hold significant meanings, often containing stories about their people and traditions. At the end of the minga, a group of girls gave a dance presentation that highlighted some of the  moves that they use in these types of traditional dances. The one I found most interesting was when they would kneel down and flip their hair from left to right. Although I did not quite know the meaning behind this dance move, based on observation, a woman having long hair is an important part of their culture. After their presentation was over, they invited all of us to come out and join them on the dance floor. It was a really great experience to intermingle with the Muyuna community and just enjoy each others company. Aside from the presentation, we were able to learn other aspects of their culture such like customs, expectations, and food. We learned about their chicha drink which can be fermented or non fermented and is made out of yuca and other ingredients. This drink can serve as a source of energy for its people, and is very common. Another aspect that many of us were able to observe is responsisbilites of childcare. During the minga, a little nine year old girl was caring for her younger one-year-old brother all day. She was his caregiver and when asked she said she was used to caring for her siblings for her mother and father were busy working. This was able to show us how these children quickly take on important roles in order to help out one another due to the circumstances are in. Lastly, we were able to see their artisan work for they each gave us a bracelet made out of the traditional beads that are made from the resources around them. Both the mothers and children partook in making these beautiful bracelts for us. Sadly, our time with them had come to an end, but it was wonderful to be able to learn, bond, and interact with such kind people from the Muyuna community.

Shiripuno Comunidad 

 One of the Shiripuno outfits before colonization.

Some of the students and visitors on the sacred rock.

 This community was different in that they had started an initiative called project tourism to be able to show outsiders more of their traditions and customs. From this community, an association with comprised of 31 women was created in order to address the machismo situation in their community, These women are the ones that gave all of our presentation and addressed how they contribute to their  community. In our first presentation, a  community representative spoke about some of the daily ingredients that they consume; one of them being the yuca to make chicha. We learned that there are people who chew the yuca using their saliva as part of the fermentation process to make chicha. Only about 30% continue this practice due to those who have sicknesses that could be contagious, but also people who have eaten "outside" food (food from the city/processed food)  because it is not considered natural like their foods; thus they were contaminated. They also presented a dance with their traditional  clothing, and we all got to dance along with them!. There are two different outfits that are apart of their community; one before and after the colonization of the spaniards. The next presentation was of their sacred rock that they had found out was once a volcanic rock. It took them eight years to fully excavate it, and they state that it holds energy to give to those who climb it. Before one enters, one must knock on the entrance to the rock to tell it visitors that they are coming up. It was a very peaceful experience and one could just feel the calmness and forget about their troubles. The last presentation was a demonstration on chocolate making! She allowed the group to partake in the step by step process from the cacao beans to the finished product. The presenter told us a cool fact in that adults prepare their own chocolate, and the children prepare it for themselves as well. This provides another example on how children take on responsibilities at young ages. With the process being done, these segments of our amazon trip was completed! 

The take away

From our experience of both the schools and the communities our group was able to learn a lot about others and how their lives have been shaped by the culture and environment. In our class, we have learned about how daily routines and practices contribute into creating the environment in which the thrive in. Therefore, by actually partaking in their activities really gives one a better understanding of their lives. It was amazing to just forgot our own cultural and environmental biases and fully take in what the communities were presenting us with. This global seminar really gave us the opportunities to do more than just observe but to interact and give back to these people!

Comments

  1. I loved the Shiripuno Comunidad! I felt like it was so empowering that it was a group of women who started the whole thing. It was also amazing to hear about their everyday lives- so hardworking and constantly on the go starting so early in the morning. I think what they've done there is extremely important in order to keep their culture and traditions alive.

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  2. Visiting these two new communities in the Amazon region was interesting. It also allowed me to see about a small part of their day to day activies through their sharing in food, clothing, and dances.

    I enjoyed learning about the Shiripuno Comunidad and how their work is a form of empowering women and their culture. Their day to day work and values are admirable. They give a different perspective of what it means to embrace one's culture and identities, both that have been oppressed and overlooked, but they show real and important it is to their day to day lives.

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  3. Reading this posts again brought back such great welcoming feelings. Both the communities have opened my eyes and have shown me what culture means to them and to me . The environment from both communities that we were welcomed in was so friendly and welcoming that I didn't want to leave. Seeing them talk about their culture and their customs and beliefs brought a sense of happiness to me because I believe that we were lucky enough to have them share their life, language and culture with us!

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